Bishop Ryle on the Deference given to False Pastors
Thursday, September 3, 2009 • 7:31 am
A couple of years ago I was engaged in a fairly heated argument on Stand Firm over the question of how to deal with false teachers in the church---the argument centered on passages from 1st Corinthians 5, Galatians 1 and 2nd John. It seemed to me then and it seems to me now that one weakness in contemporary Anglican circles that chronically leads us into trouble is an odd kind of clericalism that tends to disregard the effect of good or bad teaching on the congregational level. Some well meaning orthodox priests doggedly view priests who teach false doctrine as colleagues to be treated with deference--as persons with whom gentle and genteel dialogue and conversation is both desirable and necessary. Meanwhile, as the "conversation" drones on, the collared wolves devour their flocks and ruin the people in their care. But "the people" seem to be a secondary concern. What is most important is the "unity of the Church" which tends to mean: priests and bishops being nice to each other at meetings that they all attend.
This morning I ran across this passage from Bishop JC Ryle's commentary on the Gospel of John (chapter 10) while reading another blog. Bishop Ryle's comment serves as a helpful antidote to clerical toleration in the name of unity. You can read the entire commentary here.
Those who think that unsound ministers ought never to be exposed and held up to notice, and men ought never to be warned against them, would do well to study this passage. No class of character throughout our Lord's ministry seems to call forth such severe denunciation as that of false pastors. The reason is obvious. Other men ruin themselves alone: false pastors ruin their flocks as well as themselves. To flatter all ordained men, and say they never should be called unsound and dangerous guides, is the surest way to injure the Church and offend Christ.
Hat tip to the Pyromaniacs.